A part of us wishes Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 came bundled with its own aluminum foil deflector beanie, because it’s the only thing missing from what’s otherwise the ultimate package for paranoid PC users. Put another way, running Kaspersky is like sitting in a panic room behind a three-inch steel-frame door with multiple deadlocks, and toting a sawed-off shotgun just for good measure. Do you see where we’re going?
Underneath Kaspersky's unassuming UI sits a whirlwind of protection.
Out of the box, Kaspersky comes ready to throw down with any malware feeling froggy enough to jump. Almost as if trying to prove a point, Kaspersky wouldn’t even allow us to visit our synthetic spyware site (www.spycar.org) until we configured the web module to chilax and let us poke our head into suspicious web portals. Not that it mattered, because Kaspersky was unfazed by each of Spycar’s attempts to hijack our browser and simulate other malicious behavior.
We again had to disable the web module in order to download our dirty archive brimming with real malware, and once more Kaspersky shrugged off our shenanigans by keeping the lid tightly closed no matter how hard we tried to open it.
This is only the half of it, folks. All of our testing was performed with Kaspersky’s default security settings. Digging through the plain-English UI, we found that we could increase the security level for File, Mail, and Web from medium to high. Kaspersky only offers vague descriptions as to what these levels do, but the way it performed at default, we wouldn’t be surprised if increasing security to high resulted in Kaspersky sending a security consultant to your home to watch over your shoulder.
All this and we’ve still only scratched the surface. Do you have a sneaky suspicion that Bob from accounting installed a keylogger on your machine, but you just can’t prove it? Kaspersky includes a virtual keyboard to prevent Bob, or foreign hackers, from recording your keystrokes as you log into banking sites or anywhere else you want extra peace of mind. If your paranoia runs even deeper, Kaspersky’s “Safe Run for Websites” option adds an additional layer of protection to your surfing session, sort of like a souped-up private browsing session. Cookies, history, and other details are kept secluded from the OS so they can’t be exploited, and then are nuked when you exit the browser.
Kasperky’s Safe Run feature also extends to the desktop. If you’re unsure about that screensaver you just downloaded, the Safe Run option—found in the right-click context menu—runs the program in a virtual environment. This sandbox mode isolates the potentially unsavory app from making changes to the OS, and adds a layer of privacy—IMs, emails, and other communications are deleted once you exit the app.
On top of all these security shields, Kaspersky rounds out its package with a toy box of tools that includes a downloadable ISO to create a rescue CD or USB key, a vulnerability scan to alert you to potential security holes with your system/programs, a privacy cleaner (vacuums up your various caches), and a browser diagnostic for IE users. There’s even a system restore utility that searches for problems caused by malware and then offers to roll back changes, but if you manage to circumvent Kaspersky’s protection in the first place, then you’re doing something seriously wrong.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2011
Protects against a variety of threats; sandbox mode; virtual keyboard.
Scan times could be faster.
Scan 1 (min:sec)
Scan 2 (min:sec)
Boot (seconds added)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a Core 2 Quad Q9400, 8GB DDR2/800, a Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200.10 (~60GB filled across two partitions), a Radeon HD 3650, and Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. The reviewed app is compared to the top-performing apps from our AV showdown.